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Living with Someone with ADHD
Multiple studies on behavioral sciences suggest that it’s normal for people to want to socialize with others 👌. In other words, we are “inherently social.” We are built and honed to be part of the community and interact with other human beings. We often need others to accomplish some of our goals or share our experiences with to feel more complete. There are many times when letting other people be a part of our life can make it more bearable and smooth-sailing as opposed to being on our own, which can lead to us feeling overwhelmed by so many things.
However, when someone is struggling with a neurodivergent disorder like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), socializing can be complex as other people may not understand what goes through our ADHD brain. Symptoms of ADHD may also affect our relationships, when our partner, family, or friends do not like how we run things. These ADHD traits can hinder us from connecting with acquaintances. Can you imagine how it can affect our relationship with the people we live at home with 🤔?
When you have ADHD, spending your time with someone - be it your partner, parents, siblings, or friends - can take a toll on your mental health 🤯. This is especially so if the non-adhd partners involved aren't fully adept with all the symptoms and traits associated with the neurodivergent condition.
Hence, we must remember that while juggling ADHD symptoms and having a social life can be a struggle, we aren’t the only ones doing our best. The people living and interacting with us on the regular might also be trying their best to understand our habits, attitude, and emotional regulation 👪.
The ADHD Relationships Struggle at Home
I often get asked a lot about what to do to help a person with ADHD feel better or how to make things easier for both the ADHD adult and their non-ADHD partner. The questions I receive, of course, aren't limited to romantic relationships 💏; they also raise concerns on how to manage ADHD symptoms. This kind gesture is always welcome - it shows great concern for people with ADHD and how willing those around our circle to help us lighten our struggle, even just for a bit.
Personally, the most significant help you can offer to your ADHD partner is to give understanding and support to their struggles. Many people with ADHD don't like to be lectured for their ADHD symptoms because they tend to feel frustrated and pressured 😤💢. We may also feel like we are a failure and have some emotional outbursts after, so lectures and harsh criticisms really don’t help much.
Being empathic with our difficulties means a lot to us 🧑🤝🧑. It is enough for us to feel that having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not our fault, and we shouldn't be blamed entirely for the reckless behavior that we may exhibit. However, we can still admit that these traits are part of our flaws that need improvement. We likewise know that if we cannot initiate improving the ADHD effect, then conflicts may arise.
The Daily Life Struggles Living with an ADHD Partner
This article isn't made to expose the behavior of an adult with ADHD but to better help you guys understand that some issues may happen frequently. Adults with ADHD should be reminded that they are not alone with their hardships 🥰; you need someone to share them with to make life bearable. And for the non-ADHD partner, family, and friends out there, these issues might complicate and add flavor to your relationships. But, remember that we don't do these things on purpose. The symptoms of ADHD tend to make us process thoughts differently, and sometimes, we aren't in control of it.
The Ever Forgetful ADHD Brain
Please don't ever get mad at us when you catch us walking all around our place searching for something important we misplaced 😥. Please don't laugh at us when we drop the hunt for that essential item in exchange for spending time over the Tik Tok app. And please don’t get angry when, upon remembering that we desperately need that item, we finally ask for your help to search with us. You'll probably encounter this adult ADHD struggle frequently, so we’re asking for your patience in advance.
Adult ADHD may come with an extraordinarily forgetful memory 🤔💭. The ADHD effect on our working memory may limit us from storing more useful short-term information, so please bear with us when we tend to forget things a lot. These don't only manifest in misplaced items; being forgetful can affect many things in our life. From not being able to follow cooking recipes due to forgotten ingredients, forgetting important dates and events, to missing the tiniest details like paying bills, ADHD forgetfulness seems to be a never-ending trait.
Don’t worry, though. As a partner with ADHD, we promise to relieve some of your stress by trying our best to set reminders for us to remember these daily tasks. We can do this with post-its 📄, setting alarms ⏰ on our phones, and many other techniques that can help jog our memories. If you see that we are having difficulties remembering things, please consider offering some help instead of getting mad or frustrated at us. You can also try to remind us to religiously follow our schedule, so that we won't miss out on anything important during the day.
Wandering Thoughts and Inattentive Listening
If we seem physically present but our mind 😐💭 is elsewhere processing too many thoughts, please give us a slight tap on our back to help us go back into reality and start paying attention. There are times that we are full of thoughts, and we want to clear them by staying organized inside our brain, causing us to “space out.”
When we enter this state of chaos inside our ADHD brain 🧠, our non-ADHD spouse, family, or friend may feel unheard of and unimportant. You may reach out to us when our hyperactive brain is on a roll, but sometimes we fail to notice your helping hands. What’s worse is that we might get irritated 🙉 when people try to talk to us or get near us while we are in this state. In return, our partners may feel like their efforts are not being appreciated, creating space for more conflicts.
When we are enveloped and overwhelmed by too many thoughts, we want someone who would understand that our ADHD brains are just simply being hyperactive again. Overthinkers tend to worry about so many things 😱. This may cause us to feel like we are losing control of things. And as someone who tends to think a lot, assurance and understanding are the two things we seek from our partner, family, or friend. We want them to know that we don't overthink on purpose and are just trying to make sense of everything happening inside our heads.
The Search for Tranquil Environment
As someone struggling with many ADHD symptoms, one of the most sought-after solutions I want to achieve is ☕ a peaceful, organized, and clutter-free space. But as long as we cannot manage our ADHD symptoms well, home organization will not be part of the picture. The skill needed to stay organized inside our humble abode may not come out yet, but please know that we also want that comfy space for our peace of mind.
Some people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can sometimes have a way of making things more disorganized or putting them in a complete mess. The consequences when we decide to clean up or cook 🍲 something can be more clutter and more mishmash 😨. All we want is for you to acknowledge our effort or gesture in helping you with household chores, but apparently, we tend to make our home even messier, which means it needs more cleaning after.
We know that household responsibilities are meant to be shared between the people sharing the house. But, as someone with ADHD, we may not be able to contribute much in this area. Yes, we went through the parent-child dynamic technique in doing household chores, and we've also experienced times when our parents divide tasks to do at home 🧹🧺🧽. However, as we grow older, the adult ADHD symptoms might get the best of us and limit our urge to achieve something more.
Please rest assured that we are trying our best. When we do our daily tasks, we might be able to do them perfectly 💯 because of the hyperfocus that comes with the ADHD diagnosis. At times, we may do some of the tasks but ultimately abandon them because of our impulsive behaviors.
It would be best if you didn't do every job for us, but let your actions inspire us to do things because a relationship needs cooperation and teamwork to succeed 👊😉.
The Most Vital Ingredient in Adult Relationships
An ADHD partner may always seem to interrupt you from talking 🗣️, resulting in hurt feelings and possible misunderstandings. When we tend to cut you off from speaking, it is not that we don't want to listen to you and the things you want to share. It's because we want to contribute and say something, too.
Believe it when we say that we are trying to maintain the conversation - with both of us speaking 🗣️ and 👂 listening equally. It's just that we tend to have disorganized thoughts, forgetful brains, and impulsive behavior, causing us to interrupt you.
The secret to a healthy relationship lies in our communication quality with our partners 💏. Relationship problems seem to arise more often when we don't allow good communication flow between partners. However, ADHD plays a crucial role in this flow.
Our communication skills may be affected by how we regulate our emotions and impulsively blurt out hurtful words to our loved ones 😢. It can also make our partner feel unimportant when we miss the necessary details they want to share because we have too many thoughts in our brain.
Please keep in mind that as much as we want to avoid hurting you, we cannot fully control the possibility of making you feel less important. Our communication skills are sometimes viewed as an attack on our partners, making them feel we are not interested in what they are saying. Please try to understand us 🙏, and in return, we will do our best to manage our symptoms. As much as we can, we are trying to improve our communication skills and share special moments with you whenever possible.
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The Positive Side of Having Someone with ADHD
Not everything is disadvantageous when you are with someone with ADHD. An ADHD partner gives off lots of ideas and creativity that can be a source of fun and laughter in the relationship 😂. We are also spontaneous, which can add excitement to every moment we spend with our non-ADHD spouse or partner. The moment we are with you, we want to make it the best moment ever and fill it with as much fun and laughter as possible.
We also tend to have high energy levels, which can be translated to being able to do more things together. We may get too excited about an activity that we forget our limitations 🤸, but that doesn't mean we will push you to do things beyond your capability. We want to show you how much we enjoy your company and that we want to make the most out of every moment we spend with you. We also ensure that our partner feels secure and that we will never do anything to put them in danger 👫❤️.
A person with ADHD is also usually very passionate about the things and people they love ❤️. When we are in love, we may be very intense in showing our affection, which can make the relationship more exciting. It shows that as a partner with ADHD, we will do as much as possible to make our loved ones feel unique and cherished, even if there are many struggles along the way.
Accepting the ADHD Partner, Whatever it Takes
All we want is to be accepted and understood despite all the symptoms of ADHD we tend to exhibit 🙋♀️. We don't want to be judged by our mental health conditions, but by who we really are. You may not be fully aware, but we are trying our best to meet the expectations that you have set for us. It is not easy to have ADHD, but we also know it is not easy to live with someone with ADHD.
It takes a lot of patience, understanding, and effort from both sides to make the dynamic relationship work. We may not be perfect, and we are sorry for that. We take full responsibility for all the struggles in the relationship that our symptoms might cause.
The most important thing is that we are here for you, and we will try our best to be the best partner that we can be. We know it is not easy to deal with everything, but we are willing to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work. We know it takes not only one partner to make a relationship successful, but all hands should be on deck to maintain a long-lasting life together 👫❤️.
Living Harmoniously with Your Partner with ADHD
When we learn how to compliment our partner's actions, every struggle is worth sharing. Attention Deficit Disorder may sometimes be challenging for both parties, but every difficulty it brings can still be bearable and worthwhile. We need to learn more and more about our daily experiences and improve continuously for the better. Here are some more tips and “survival” 🧗 skills required to make living with someone struggling with ADHD more worthwhile:
- Adult ADHD symptoms differ from one person to another, so it's recommended to equip yourself with all the 🤓 knowledge and understanding of ADHD to support your partner well.
- Browse through different articles 💻 sharing their knowledge and expertise about ADHD. Knowing these can make you understand more the struggles that you are up against.
- Reading 📖 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) can also help greatly. The manual provides a more comprehensive and in-depth explanation of ADHD, which can be very useful for both partners.
- Research 📚 more on activities that can help you get closer to your partners. Also, look for activities that can help manage ADHD symptoms, like drafting your time management system, doing tasks together, and having a reward system that involves you spending quality time with your non-ADHD partner.
- Ask for the guidance of a mental health professional 👩⚕️. The professional help they'll most likely give is already medically reviewed and has undergone peer-reviewed studies that have proven effective.
- Self-diagnosis and having an undiagnosed ADHD can sometimes complicate things in a relationship. It would be best to ask for professional 👩⚕️ help to know if your partner has ADHD and what kind of ADHD they have.
- Ask your non-ADHD partner to accompany you to the ADHD treatment you'll undergo 🤝. Your partner would be more than willing to go with you, witness your treatment progress, and learn a lot to support you.
Making your relationship work is a team effort 💏 . Both partners should be willing to understand and learn more about each other's conditions. It takes two to tango, so it will take the willingness of both partners to make the relationship survive against all odds. ADHD or not, it is best to remember that struggles are lighter when shared with the people we love.
Living with Someone with ADHD: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why is it sometimes hard to have a relationship with people with ADHD?
You may have noticed that your loved one with ADHD can be charming, interesting, and exciting 😁. However, they can also be forgetful, disorganized and restless 😮💨. In other words: their ADHD causes them to have trouble paying attention to what you're saying or thinking about their ideas. While this isn't a bad thing in itself (people with ADHD do have a lot of good qualities), it does make everyday life challenging for everyone involved.
How can ADHD affect your relationships?
If you have ADHD and you're in a relationship with someone who doesn't, they may think that your behavior is intentional and be less forgiving than they would if you were both dealing with the same problem 🤷.
How can you support someone with ADHD?
Be patient and understanding. Understanding is key if you want to support someone who has ADHD. It's not their fault that they're struggling, so don't take it personally when they're frustrated with themselves or others around them 🙆.Also, give them space to vent their frustrations. Someone with ADHD might be easily frustrated by the amount of tasks they have to get done in a day, or how much energy it takes just to get out of bed in the morning—so let them know that sometimes taking time out for yourself is okay!